Clinton vs. Sanders, Statecraft vs. Soulcraft

he presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders is unique in American history. Never before has there been such a popular upsurge within the two-party system, led by a democratic socialist rooted in the best of the prophetic Jewish culture. This historic campaign is more than a monumental battle over the soul of the Democratic Party. It is, more significantly, a moral and spiritual awakening of fellow citizens — especially young and old ones — for the rebirth of American democracy.

Despite the vast array of voices in the Democratic and Republican parties, there is widespread agreement that our political system is broken, our economy is unfair, and our culture is in decline. No candidate — with the exception of Hillary Clinton — believes the status quo is fine, fair, and in good shape (thanks to President Obama).

The genius of Sanders is to exemplify a profound integrity and genuine conviction in the midst of pervasive mendacity and raw ambition. There is little doubt our statecraft has been wrecked by a crass opportunism and greed that debases our public life and demeans our common good. The widely attractive soulcraft of Sanders provides an authenticity of moral depth and spiritual substance. Sanders’ righteous indignation is not mere narcissistic anger (like that of Donald Trump); rather it flows from profound sensitivity to the suffering of the weak and vulnerable. Sanders’ big vision and big heart — in contrast to Clinton’s big name and intimate link to big money — yields a real hope grounded in community. Unlike Clinton’s sense of entitlement and prerogative, Sanders is the quintessential American underdog who suffers, strives, and triumphs.

For example, Clinton cannot conceive of the victory of Sanders — she is blinded by her Machiavellian “morality” and spiritual vacuity. The Clinton machine either wins by any means and celebrates, or loses, whines and recalibrates. In stark contrast, Sanders tends to stand above the fray but is willing to engage in fierce combat if his integrity is attacked. In this moment of ugly polarization, we need leaders, regardless of race or gender, who have what the great Jane Austen called constancy — a steadfast commitment to moral consistency and practical wisdom like that of Anne Elliot in “Persuasion.’’

Democratic soulcraft — empathy, integrity, and a mature sense of history — constitutes the raw stuff of democratic statecraft. We will never fix our broken systems with mendacious leaders or tendentious citizens. We must search for higher moral ground and spiritual heights — and the grand example of Sanders is the best we have in our present moment of political decadence and cultural decay. Like the prophetic performance of Kendrick Lamar at the Grammy Awards, we need a Coltrane-like intensity of moral and spiritual witness, and the campaign of Bernie Sanders is such witness — namely, the democratic awakening in our time.


The W Train Returns From The Dead

Been watching this for a while. It was a great idea. Why can’t Transit Authority act like it did from 1904 to 1929? It did the same thing that  NY Central and New Haven Railroads did. IT BORROWED MONEY!

You probably haven’t heard of the W train. It was a local line that was part of New York City’s subway system and ran between Queens and Manhattan (and initially down to Coney Island) from 2001 to 2010, when it was axed due to budget constraints. (The Z train was also scaled back at the time.) On Friday, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority confirmed rumors that it was considering bringing the W back into service, but while that in-and-of-itself isn’t that interesting, what the W’s resurrection means is very significant.

By bringing back the W, the MTA would be able to reroute the Q train to serve the first phase of the Second Avenue Subway, the first major expansion of the subway system in decades and a project so long in the works (the original concept came out in 1929) it has become almost mythical.

“an unprecedented accomplishment in the MTA’s modern existence”

The MTA says the Second Avenue Subway’s first phase will serve an existing F train station at Lexington Avenue and 63rd Street, on the Upper East Side, as well as three brand new stations at 72nd, 86th, and 96th streets. And when it opens later this year, the new four-station route will represent “an unprecedented accomplishment in the MTA’s modern existence,” the agency boasts.

But what about the W train? Its return could be a boon for the residents of Astoria, Queens, which has seen its population fall by almost 10 percent since the W was taken offline, losing most of the gains it made in the prior decade. But it’s doubtful it’s return will be greeted with anything more than a shrug from the city’s cynical straphangers, many of whom are growing tired of waiting for their delayed and congested commutes to magically improve. Nor will it provide any solace to those L train riders who are already girding themselves for a possible multi-year shutdown of the Canarsie tube under the East River between Manhattan and Brooklyn.

The MTA envisions the resurrected W train running west from Astoria under the East River, cutting across Midtown, and then down the same track used by the N and Q trains, before terminating at Whitehall St, located in the southern-most tip of Manhattan. The Q train would be rerouted at 57th St, running north along the newly dug Second Avenue Subway line once the first phase of that project is completed. The W would effectively replace the rerouted Q train.

The W has been referred to as “a real blue collar train” by its conductors, but in 2010 its demise was co-opted by white twenty-somethings who seized the opportunity to turn its final journey into a booze-soaked party. It’s unclear whether its return will trigger similar celebrations, but one of the planners of the 2010 “wake” tweeted that he was considering it.

Cuomo has short-sighted take on transit

When it came to transportation, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s annual State of the State speech had great sound bites but provided little substance. Cuomo failed to give any specifics of how he will come up with the $8.3 billion promised to meet the shortfall in his proposed 2015-2019 MTA Five Year Capital Plan. Cuomo is kicking the can down the road.

The original proposed 2010-2014 MTA $29 billion Five Year Capital Plan was cut to $24.2 billion before being approved. This doesn’t include $8.3 billion more pledged by Cuomo and $2.5 billion by NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio to help cover shortfalls in the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s proposed $28 billion 2015 – 2019 Five Year Capital Plan (cut from $32 billion). When will these billions become reality?

How can the MTA justify cutting $9 billion in badly needed capital improvements over a ten year period and still provide the day to day services millions of New Yorkers count on? How many critical capital improvement projects will be postponed into the next 2020 – 2024 Capital Program?

The 2020-2024 MTA Five Year Capital Program will first have to deal with $9 billion in unfunded carryover capital projects and programs. By waiting all these years, the costs will have gone up by another billion or two. This includes $1 billion or more to construct Phase 2 of the Second Avenue Subway. Next is $1 billion or more to finish LIRR Eastside Access to Grand Central Terminal. What about finding $500 million to build the No. 7 subway station at 10th Avenue and 41st?

Also needed is $1.5 billion for the LIRR Main Line Third Track project. The LaGuardia Airport Train to the Plane baseline budget of $450 million in the years to come will require up to an additional $550 million.

The $3 billion new Penn Station will end up needing far more than $300 million in combined assistance from the MTA, Amtrak and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Does anyone believe that potential developers will spend $2.7 billion of their own funding to pay for this?

Some Queens residents will look for $100 million toward the $200 million Woodhaven Boulevard Select Bus Service. These dollars may be necessary if NYCDOT can’t secure $100 million in U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration New Starts funding. Others will continue to lobby for restoration of LIRR service on the old Rockaway LIRR branch at $1 billion, Triboro X Subway Express (new subway line connecting the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn for $1 to $2 billion) and most recently the Brooklyn-Queens Waterfront Street Car Connector at a cost of $1.7 billion.

Combined, all of the above would make Cuomo’s tab for unfunded transportation improvements exceed $26 billion! Cuomo reminds me of the character Wimpy who famously said “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” When the bills become due, taxpayers will be stuck with Cuomo’s tab. Why would the next governor want to pay for any of Cuomo’s bills?

Larry Penner , Great Neck

All About Crazy Pasta Child

Oh dear!
Being Italian has always been a synonym of pasta eater.
Yes. It is.
Since that crazy of Marco Polo brought pasta from China, the destiny of Italy and Italians had been written.
In each country of the world if you tell you are Italian they will say to you pasta! With a biiiig smile!
Some years ago, it was worse because people also told you: ah! Italia! Pizza, spaghetti mandolino!
Well, there’s another problem: we speak a lot and we speak with hands, so we are considered pasta eaters and and also a bit insane.
In spite of all, I’m proudly:
Italian child (well…. Grown up child, that’s better)
Pasta eater
Speaking lover
Hands speaker
I can cook pizza but I can’t play mandolino, first of all because it’s an old instrument (I prefer electric guitar) and and also because his music is sad.
Proudly crazy pasta child because our country is a small little shining star in the world.
Call it ITALIA, call it boot if you prefer, but we still go on eating pasta and speak with hands!
And we are as famous as the pope!

Job Stuff 24

The Arts Mechanical

Starting off with this from Mike Rowe this week.



Last week, my personal toilet at mikeroweWORKS Headquarters coughed up a disgusting clog of bad advice, noxious bromides, and odorous stereotypes, leaving my entire office awash in the horrific stench of myth and nonsense. With no licensed plumbers on hand, I was forced to address the problem myself, pulling each offending fallacy from it’s cardboard tube of allegorical poo, and confronting it with a mix of government statistics and righteous indignation. As always, my objective was twofold – to shine a light on America’s widening skills gap, and debunk the growing perception that “all the good jobs are gone.”

This latest effort is called “Hot Under the Blue Collar,” and it was sponsored by One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning, Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, and Mr. Sparky Electrical. Like so many other…

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Go Yard Goats! Hartford announces new minor league baseball team name

Crazy Pasta Child

HARTFORD – The votes are in…and Hartford’s new minor league baseball team will be called the Yard Goats!

The “Yard Goats” name originates from the railroad slang term for an engine that switches a train to get it ready for another locomotive to take over. The Yard Goats honors Hartford’s rich railroad history.


Is this Hartford’s quintessential “Yard-Goat”? The last of HELCO’s engines that shifted coal and oil loaded cars at their South Meadow Station for over 38 years! A workhorse of unbelievable strength and durability – still working today at the Connecticut Trolley Museum… perhaps the only real “Yard-Goat” that Hartford ever had

Find out more about the  Connecticut Trolley Museum

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